Fan support critical to Browns

Posted Nov 6, 2013

Having more than 70,000 fans at each of their home games makes a world of difference to the Cleveland Browns.

In their first five regular-season home games this year, the Cleveland Browns have played in front of 357,259 fans, and having the support that comes with an average home crowd of 71,452 means everything to the Browns.

The Browns welcomed 71,513 fans to FirstEnergy Stadium last Sunday, and those who withstood near freezing temperatures were rewarded with a 24-18 victory over the reigning Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.

“I just want to really thank our fans,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said of the support during the Ravens game. “They were awesome, and they make a real difference for us. They make it tough on the other team, communication, the other team’s offense, being able to play. Really, our guys feed off of the energy that the crowd provides, so I really appreciate that.”

Although he knows the fans’ support on game day is critical, Chudzinski said he has seen the support outside of work too.

“I was actually out with my family getting pizza Friday night and ran into a fan who came by, stopped and said he really likes the way we play,” Chudzinski recalled. “He didn’t say anything about wins and losses. He just said he likes the way we play. I think the fans are seeing that, are appreciating how we play. It adds to their excitement.”

And much like their head coach, the Browns’ players have expressed how important the support of the fans has been to them this season, especially because it has allowed them to start building a true home-field advantage.

Against the Ravens, the Browns registered five sacks, four of which came on third down when the 71,513 faithful rose to their feet and made things difficult for Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and his offensive line.

“It was a huge day for the Browns and the Browns’ community,” wide receiver Greg Little said. “It’s wonderful to come out to an always packed stadium and us energize those guys every down. It was really good to have them behind us and cheering us on.”

Safety Tashaun Gipson added, “That’s definitely huge anytime the crowd can get behind you. It goes to show that home-field advantage means a lot in this sport, and anytime the team has difficulty getting their plays out, the snap count, that works in the defense’s favor. That played into our hand, and we were able to capitalize on some of the crowd noise. We were able to take advantage of the mistakes that they made due to the crowd noise and we greatly appreciate the fans for coming out and showing support like that.”

For Gipson, who played college football at the University of Wyoming, where the Cowboys play in front of crowds of just under 30,000 on Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium, hearing the roar of 70,000 Browns fans is a priceless asset.

“You live for the thrills of the game,” Gipson said. “That’s huge anytime you can make a big play and have 70,000 fans just roaring and on their feet screaming. You definitely want to take advantage of the home-field, and I think that’s what we’ve done this season.

“We’ve been able to take care of and take advantage of the home crowd. I just hope the success can continue. We’re going to need it down the rest of this stretch. If the fans keep coming out and supporting us like that, I think it’s going to be hard for a lot of opposing offenses to come in here and be able to communicate efficiently.”

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